Thinking of New Year’s Eve, what comes to your mind? Do you envision funny party hats, noise makers, champagne, and people going to extravagant parties while wearing their best attire? You might imagine Times Square in New York City overflowing with people and confetti. Let us explore the origin of celebrations revolving around a couple of our New Year’s Eve traditions.
New Year’s Eve Ball
Beginning in 1907, New York City welcomed people to witness the dropping of a large lightbulb-infused ball on top of the New York Times building. Iron and wood comprised the original ball. It measured five feet in diameter, weighed approximately 700 pounds, and was illuminated with 216 lightbulbs. The New Year’s Eve tradition has transpired for nearly 115 years, with two exceptions occurring in 1942 and 1943. The modern New Year’s Eve ball weighs six tons and displays 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles.
The New York City celebration derives itself from a much older and more helpful exercise. Long before cellular phones existed, and prior to watches appearing on most wrists, the average person used a sundial to check the time of day. Some ancient civilizations also had time balls designating the time. A time ball operates either in a city’s center or near the coast and is large enough to see from a distance. The time ball lowers from a pole or pulley system throughout the day to designate the time for passersby. In 1833, the Royal Greenwich Observatory installed one of the first modern time balls to assist captains of ships sailing through the river Thames. The observatory still operates its time ball today.
New Year’s Eve drops around the USA
Many other American cities have instituted their own version of the New Year’s Eve time ball. Here are just a few of the many drops around the country. Nashville, Tennessee, boasts a 16-foot, 400-pound red music note drop at midnight amidst fireworks and live country music throughout the evening. Wisconsin knows cheese, so naturally, there is at least one New Year’s Eve tradition featuring a cheese drop. In 2022, Plymouth, Wisconsin, will hold its 16th annual Sartori Big Cheese drop as the clock strikes midnight. Another popular food-based drop takes place in Boise, Idaho. Visitors gather to witness a 17-foot-long lighted potato descend from the sky. New Orleans, Louisiana, drops a large fleur-de-lis emblem to celebrate the new year in Jackson Square.
New Year’s Eve Traditional Song
If you have attended a New Year’s Eve party or watched a movie depicting such a gathering, you have probably heard the song “Auld Lang Syne.” The song originates from Scotland, and its title translates to “for old times’ sake.” According to Scotland.org, the tune is “all about preserving old friendships and looking back over the events of the year.” The Scottish tradition involves singing the song right before midnight. Participants sing while standing in a circle holding hands. When the final verse arrives, “they cross their arms across their bodies so that their left hand is holding the hand of the person on their right, and their right hand holds that of the person on their left.” As the song ends, everyone continues holding hands and dashes to the center of the circle.
No matter how you choose to commemorate the new year, celebrate safely and enjoy the holiday. If you liked reading this article, please read about how to celebrate Veterans Day.
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